Informed Comment / April 20, 2023
Newark, Delaware – The recent visit of Reza Pahlavi to Israel and his meeting with PM Netanyahu raise many questions. Why now and what is the meaning of this pilgrimage? What is it about water? Is water the main issue in Iran? This must be a joke.
Reza Pahlavi coordinated an alliance with activists calling for regime change in Iran. They issued a manifesto to that effect. Unfortunately, it did not go over well; it came to naught.
He said that anyone can board the bus! Yet immediately after some opposition figures tried to get on the so-called bus, they were dismissed. So how is this bus towards the establishment of democracy supposed to move when its passengers have been thrown off?
Reza Pahlavi has spoken well in recent times, yet Iranians are wary of mere talk. They don’t believe talk until the words spoken are put into action.
Reza Pahlavi also met and shook hands with the most right-wing people in the U.S. The name of Sheldon Adelson comes into mind. He was about bombing Iran. By the way, according to Forbes, he was worth only $29 billion! He said once, “Okay, let it go: So there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles in the middle of the desert that doesn’t hurt a soul. […] And you say ‘See? The next one is in the middle of Tehran.’”
Can those close to individuals who have endorsed the idea of nuking Iran be legitimate representatives of change in Iran?
There are those who want to see Iran broken up into pieces. Some years ago, in Washington, D.C., I remember attending a meeting at the American Enterprise Institute around this theme.
Michael Ledeen, a well-known advocate of this idea, had organized the meeting, which was attended by so-called representatives from different ethnic minorities of Iran. The infamous Paul Wolfowitz was present as well. He was shy about responding to my questions about Iraq or perhaps he was too embarrassed.
The meeting didn’t end well as even those minorities who supposedly represented Iran’s various minorities said that they wanted a united Iran.
Reza Pahlavi may be an alternative but what about those who are struggling in Iran, facing imprisonment, torture and death?
Is there no one else? We obviously have many good alternatives, inside and outside Iran.
Reza Pahlavi is just one of many. Yet his message is unclear. One day he is for a republic and the next day he feels the need to respond to his supporters — many of whom want the return of the monarchy in Iran.
In 1979, his father’s monarchy was toppled. Whether this was good or bad it is for history to judge.
But Iranians, especially women, have shown through their heroic struggle that we cannot rely on foreign interference. We must rely on ourselves.
Kissing the Wailing Wall and putting on a yarmulka may be fine gestures. In this crucial moment in history, however, we need more heroic action. It does not include kissing the hands of Bibi Netanyahu, who is not even liked in his own country judging by the millions who have protested his legislative overreach. Israelis came out into the streets by the thousands to protest the actions of the PM who is only about keeping his government but not the rule of law.
We need strength from our own people, and we must rely on our own people.
Certainly Iranians and Israelis have much in common. What they share most of all is a common struggle for democratic rule. Neither Reza Pahlavi nor Netanyahu fits into this equation.
I rely on the power of our people.
Fariba Amini is a freelance writer and journalist; she has interviewed many scholars of Iran and former U.S. diplomats throughout the years; her research on The Most Successful Iranian-Americans was published by the U.S. Department of State